Do you recall the Monty Pyton sketch, “Four Yorkshire Men” that partially went along the lines of:
I was happier then and I had nothin’. We used to live in this tiny old house with great big holes in the roof.
House! You were lucky to live in a house! We used to live in one room, all twenty-six of us, no furniture, ‘alf the floor was missing, and we were all ‘uddled together in one corner for fear of falling.
Eh, you were lucky to have a room! We used to have to live in t’ corridor!
Oh, we used to dream of livin’ in a corridor! Would ha’ been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woke up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us! House? Huh.
Well, when I say ‘house’ it was only a hole in the ground covered by a sheet of tarpaulin, but it was a house to us.
We were evicted from our ‘ole in the ground; we ‘ad to go and live in a lake.
You were lucky to have a lake! There were a hundred and fifty of us living in t’ shoebox in t’ middle o’ road.
You were lucky. We lived for three months in a paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six in the morning, clean the paper bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down t’ mill, fourteen hours a day, week-in week-out, for sixpence a week, and …
And so it went on. Four Yorkshire men out-bragging each other.
How often do we try to ‘be better’ than the rest. We get to bragging. A bit of fun … until we begin to big note ourselves. What is that?
I know I have fallen into this trap… especially when people are telling a story, or a joke, and I can think of a better one… in reality, and at times, I’m no better than one of those 4 Yorkshire men!
Now, I know there is a time and a place for everything… even bragging. But there are limits and determining ‘when’ is really important.
Intent is the key.
In Acts 5:1-11, Ananias and Sapphira pretended to be generous in front of their fellow Christians. Big noting themselves. Looking good. Bragging, “Hey, we sold some land too and here’s all the money.” Aren’t we good.
Secretly they kept back some of it for themselves. Well, that’s okay…it was theirs anyways.
But the deceitfulness (intent) of saying they gave all when in fact they had not.
God judged this and they paid with their very life! A lesson learned by the early church.
It’s easy to read and skip over this and casually think that I wouldn’t do that! But then how many times have we done similar things. Have we lied to the gathered believers?
“How’s it going?”… Awesome, great thanks.
“Are you keeping up with the daily Bible readings?”… Never missed one.
“Will you pray for my situation this week?” Sure, I’ll pray.
Like me, as you begin to think of the glib answers we can sometimes say when asked a myriad of questions, you will spot a few that don’t always have truthful responses.
Then, are we any different to Ananias and Sapphira?
Scary to think if God decided one day to make an example when we are gathered together.
“No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people.”
No pretenders or halfhearted followers risked being identified with this gathering of believers… and yet in the very next verse…
“Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.”
Being in genuine fellowship with one another, being truly honest and open to one another is an act of love. A very high value on God’s agenda. And this also creates an environment that is very appealing and attractive. God certainly wants it to be so.
It is a sobering thought that the Lord takes integrity so seriously. We so need his help daily to be truthful, honest and to speak with integrity. Go ahead… ask Him to help.